Brushing Scams: 15 Tactics and How to Avoid Them

brushing scams

What Is a Brushing Scam?

A brushing scam is a type of e-commerce fraud in which sellers on online marketplaces send unsolicited products to individuals and then post fake positive reviews on behalf of those recipients. The brushing scams aim to boost the seller’s ratings and improve their visibility on the platform, ultimately leading to increased sales.

Unfortunately, the brushing scams have emerged as a pervasive threat, exploiting unsuspecting consumers and manipulating e-commerce platforms. Sad, but there is hope. Understanding the various tactics employed by scammers is crucial for individuals to protect themselves from falling victim to these deceptive practices. Therefore, let me explain how they work.

what is a brushing scam

How Do Brushing Scams Work?

The recipients of the unordered products are often unaware of the scam until they receive the items. In some cases, the products may be cheap or low-quality goods. By sending these items, the scammers create the appearance of legitimate transactions and use the recipients’ names to generate positive reviews for their products.

The most prevalent type of this particular scheme is the Amazon Brushing Scam.

Watch the video below to see how the brushing scams work:

Types of Brushing Scams

In this article, I have compiled the most common 15 brushing scams, shedding light on how they work and offering insights on how to avoid becoming a target. Here they are:

1. Invisible Ink Pens – Scammers send seemingly harmless invisible ink pens to recipients. Once received, they post positive reviews about the product, enhancing their online reputation.

2. Empty Packaging Deception – Individuals receive packages with little to no contents. Scammers exploit this by posting fake reviews and boosting their seller ratings.

3. Personalized Merchandise Fraud – Crooks send personalized merchandise, such as custom keychains or phone cases, to recipients without their consent. Positive reviews are then posted, falsely endorsing the product.

4. Seed Scam – Unsolicited seed packages are sent to individuals, often with exotic or unfamiliar seeds. Positive reviews are generated by scammers who use the recipients’ names.

5. Mystery Electronics – Recipients receive mystery electronic gadgets, usually of low quality. Scammers leverage these deliveries to fabricate positive feedback, enhancing their online presence.

6. Fake Collectibles – Scammers send counterfeit collectibles or limited edition items to unsuspecting individuals, aiming to bolster their reputation through fabricated positive reviews.

7. Cosmetic Samples – Fraudsters send cosmetic samples to recipients who didn’t request them. Positive reviews are then posted, often exploiting the recipients’ personal information.

8. Clothing and Accessories Ruse – Unordered clothing or accessories are shipped to recipients, who subsequently become unwitting endorsers through fake positive reviews.

9. Health and Wellness Products – Scammers target individuals with unsolicited health and wellness products, leveraging positive reviews to create a façade of credibility.

10. Pet Supplies Deception – Individuals receive unordered pet supplies. Scammers capitalize on this by generating positive reviews, using the recipients’ names to bolster their seller reputation.

11. Faux Handmade Goods – Scammers send fake handmade items to recipients, who unknowingly contribute to the deception by posting positive reviews, believing they endorse genuine products.

why is it called brushing

12. Bait-and-Switch Books – Unsolicited books arrive at recipients’ doorsteps. Scammers use this tactic to garner positive book reviews, deceiving consumers and online platforms alike.

13. Tech Gadget Scam – Individuals receive unexpected tech gadgets, often subpar. Positive reviews are fabricated by scammers who manipulate the recipients’ information.

14. Subscription Service Subterfuge – Scammers sign individuals up for subscription services without their consent. Then, positive reviews are posted to create a false image of customer satisfaction.

15. Counterfeit Luxury Items – Recipients unknowingly receive counterfeit luxury items, such as bags or accessories. Positive reviews contribute to the illusion of authenticity created by the scammers.

Additional Brushing Scam Items

However, there could be several other items involved in the process. Here are some other common ones:

  • Fake Jewelry
  • Unsolicited Artwork
  • Novelty Item
  • Home Décor
  • Supplements
  • DIY Kits
  • Board Game
  • Unwanted Fashion
  • Tech Support
  • Environmental Awareness
  • Craft Supplies
  • Kitchen Gadgets
  • Fitness Equipment
  • Phone Accessories
  • Educational Material
  • Plant Seedling
  • Personalized Stationery
  • Office Supplies
  • Vehicle Accessories
  • Holiday Decoration

Why Is It Called Brushing?

It is called a “brushing scam” because of the practice wherein scammers engage in “brushing up” which involves embellishing or fabricating reviews for their products. This deceptive strategy is employed to craft a misleading perception of the quality of the items they sell.

What To Do If I Received a Package I Didn’t Order?

Here are some protective measures to follow:

  1. Be cautious of unsolicited packages, especially if you didn’t place any orders.
  2. Regularly check your online shopping accounts for any suspicious activity.
  3. Review and adjust privacy settings on e-commerce platforms.
  4. Report any brushing scam incidents to the relevant online marketplace and local authorities.
  5. Stay informed about common scams and share information with friends and family to combat fraud collectively.

how do brushing scams work

Key Takeaways

It’s essential for individuals who experience brushing scams to be cautious about unsolicited packages and to report such incidents to the online marketplace and relevant authorities. Additionally, reviewing and managing privacy settings on online shopping accounts can help reduce the likelihood of falling victim to such scams.

How To Report Brushing Scams

Let your friends and family know about these brushing scams. Please share this page if it was helpful. Officially, you can report e-commerce scammers and any other suspicious activity to the Federal Trade Commission – FTC (most important), the Office of the Inspector General, and the FBI Internet Complaint Center by using the pages below:

Report To The FTC
Submit a Claim To The Office of the Inspector General
Report To The FBI Internet Complaints Center

How To Protect Yourself More

Do you want to receive alerts about the newest scams every week? Subscribe to our Scam Detector newsletter. You will receive periodic emails from us with insightful tips. That will include info on how to prevent fraud and information about the newest tools you can use to fight crime.

Meanwhile, feel free to educate yourself with some other fraud-related articles. They are listed under this paragraph, so that you know more about online security. Last but not least, if you have any bad experiences, make sure to use the comments section below to expose other scammers.

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selma hrynchuk
Selma HrynchukSelma is a fraud prevention specialist renowned for her expertise in private eye investigations and a remarkable partnership with law enforcement agencies. Beyond her investigative triumphs, her public speaking engagements and written works have empowered countless individuals to protect themselves and stay ahead of deceptive schemes. Selma's legacy shines as a tenacious agent of change, unyielding in her commitment to battling fraud and ensuring a safer world for all.

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